Queen Elizabeth cancels trip to Northern Ireland

Armagh church service to proceed without British and Irish heads of state

President Michael D Higgins with Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle during the President’s state visit to Britain in 2014. File photograph: Alan Betson

President Michael D Higgins with Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle during the President’s state visit to Britain in 2014. File photograph: Alan Betson

 

Queen Elizabeth has cancelled a trip to Northern Ireland on Wednesday and has “reluctantly accepted medical advice to rest for the next few days”, Buckingham Palace has said.

As part of her visit, the queen, who is 95, was due to attend the church service in Armagh on Thursday marking the centenary of partition and Northern Ireland’s foundation.

She had been due to visit Hillsborough, Co Down on Wednesday, where she was scheduled to meet schoolchildren and other locals to mark the village’s granting of royal status.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “The Queen has reluctantly accepted medical advice to rest for the next few days.

“Her Majesty is in good spirits and is disappointed that she will no longer be able to visit Northern Ireland, where she had been due to undertake a series of engagements today and tomorrow.

“The Queen sends her warmest good wishes to the people of Northern Ireland, and looks forward to visiting in the future.”

The Queen’s decision is understood not to be related to coronavirus.

Last month, President Michael D Higgins declined an invitation from the Church Leaders Group as he believed the title was politicised and it would not be appropriate for him to attend.

British prime minister Boris Johnsonis due attend, The Irish Times reported on Wednesday.

The Church Leaders’ Group issued a statement on Wednesday morning following the announcement from Buckingham Palace.

“We are very sorry to learn that it will not be possible for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to be present for the Service of Reflection and Hope in Armagh tomorrow.

‘Good wishes’

“We wish to convey to Her Majesty our good wishes and, in doing so, to acknowledge the significance of her commitment to the work of peace and reconciliation, which has meant a great deal to people throughout this island.

“We hope that tomorrow’s service will provide an opportunity to further that work, with an emphasis on our shared hopes for the future.”

Northern Secretary Brandon Lewis said on social media that he wished “Her Majesty the Queen all the very best as she takes a few days’ rest”, and he looked forward to meeting her in Northern Ireland in the future.

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson sent his thanks to the queen “for her good wishes to the people of Northern Ireland and trust that she will keep well and benefit from a period of rest.

“It is always a joy to have Her Majesty in Royal Hillsborough and we look forward to a further visit in the near future,” he said.

The Ulster Unionist leader, Doug Beattie, also sent his best wishes to Queen Elizabeth and said he looked forward to seeing her back in Northern Ireland soon.

“She has been a source of great comfort during Northern Ireland`s darkest days and provided lasting leadership as we moved into a new era for all our people,” he said.

The queen is resting at Windsor Castle.

She hosted a major Global Investment summit at Windsor Castle on Tuesday evening.

She held two audiences on Tuesday via video link from Windsor Castle, greeting the Japanese ambassador to Britain Hajime Hayashi and the EU ambassador to Britain Joao de Almeida, followed by the investment summit in the evening.

At the weekend, she spent a day at the races at Ascot, and on Monday held a virtual audience with the new Governor-General of New Zealand.

The queen’s husband of 73 years, the Prince Phillip the Duke of Edinburgh, died in April at the age of 99. - Additional reporting PA

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